Read the first part of this series of tips on how to stop emotional eating here.
Lesson 4: If you make it to 7 pm without bingeing, it’s too late to start now
There are times when making it through a day without turning to food to cope with life’s frustrations, sadnesses, and discomforts feels like an impossible task. You look at the clock all day long and it seems to be stuck at 1:30 pm. Everything that could have gone wrong, has. You’ve found every reason to eat for comfort. Nothing from breakfast to lunch to dinner has really filled you in the way you wanted it to. And yet, somehow, you’ve made it to 7 pm without a sheet cake of your very own. What strength that took! Now, I don’t know what time you go to bed, but let me tell you something — you can go to bed at 9 pm, and that is only 2 hours away. You’re almost there.
When you make it to the end of the day, on those days that feel absolutely insurmountable, you’ve got to realize how far you’ve come and what an accomplishment it was/is/would be to have survived a trying day binge-free. Not every day will be this hard. Maybe tomorrow, with fresh eyes, you’ll see a solution to today’s problem(s). Maybe tomorrow, after a good night’s rest, you’ll feel stronger and less pulled toward food. Maybe tomorrow you’ll feel like a million bucks. Think about what a damn roller coaster life is. But right now? You made it nearly to the finish of a rotten day and food would do nothing more than serve as a superficial comfort. You know this. Today might be awful, but you can do hard things.
Do the hard thing.
Lesson 5: Bingeing doesn’t stop pain; it defers it
The binger’s brain says, “I just need to give back to myself right now [by eating]” or “What I’m about to eat will make me feel good, and tonight, I just really need to feel good” or “This [food] is the only thing that can make me feel better right now.” I have binged enough times to know that none of these statements has ever turned out to be true. And yet, the thoughts keep coming. The key, then, is recognizing thought patterns, and then asking myself a few hard questions.
In moments when I catch myself saying things like, “Tonight, I just really need to let loose. Eating is what would make me feel better,” I take a minute to ask myself: What exactly would the food fix? What sadnesses would it soothe, frustrations would it ease, situations would it make better? And then, the one that always gives me tremendous pause: If I binge tonight, how will I feel tomorrow?
The answer to that last question, I think we both know, is much worse. If I’m sad or mad or frustrated or upset today, I’ve got one problem. If I binge to try to fix that problem, then I’ve got two problems. If I’m feeling some discomfort that’s causing me to want to eat, bingeing doesn’t rid me of it; it defers it. And then, tricky magician that it is; it doubles that discomfort before your very eyes.
Lesson 6: You know it’s over when it stops tasting good
It’s always the first thing you eat that you taste with the most intensity — the first cookie rather than the third, the first round at a Chinese buffet, the two slices of pizza you started with… Every serving or slice that follows, the food loses some of its flavor and a lot of its luster — even if you bounce from sweet to savory and back again. Soon, when the flavor’s gone, you’re just eating for the activity.
Once you start to notice that you’re not truly enjoying the taste of something as generally spectacular as a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, take that as a sign: it’s time to reassess.
Lesson 7: You are not alone
The more often I’ve shared my experiences with others and the more open I am about binge eating, the more aware I become that there are so, so many of us that deal with varying shades of food issues — from brief episodes of emotional eating to consistent and persistent bingeing. Truly, everybody’s got something. Read the comments on these posts. Read the comments on any of my weight loss posts, and see how many of us are here, relating to one another.
In the nearly five years that I’ve been writing this blog, thousands upon thousands of women (and men) have written to me about eating disorders, struggling with bingeing, and various forms of attachment to food. Even the people who you assume have it all figured out — they’ve got their own things. And if these issues are so common among so many of us, then we all can’t be the weak-willed monsters that we shame ourselves into believing we are after bingeing, can we? Probably not. Try to remember that.
If you’re struggling, with anything at all, you are not alone.
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